Seniors voice opposition to tax exemption
By Kathryn Schiliro
Two local seniors approached the school board in opposition to the long-standing proposal, by local organization JOLT (Job Opportunities and Lower Taxes), that the county's senior citizens be exempt from paying school taxes.
Both speakers, seniors Barbara Tyson and Richard Hodgetts, spoke of their opinion that it's the community's responsibility to educate the county's school-aged population, and that this is a cycle that has been in motion for decades.
"I'm a graduate of the public school system," Hodgetts said. "Someone paid taxes for me to be there."
"I don't approve of exempting older people just because they don't have children [in the system]," Tyson said. "I think it's our responsibility to train the younger generation."
Seniors have had 50-60 years to get to a financially sound place through working, saving and investing, Hodgetts said, and that age shouldn't be a catalyst for the shift of the tax burden.
"Why should we, as seniors, suddenly seek the right to be an entitlement group?" Hodgetts said. "I shouldn't shift my burden on onto someone just like me, only 25 years younger."
Moreover, he said, after looking over the budget, he believes the school board is spending funds in a prudent way. And system administration has done much with the funding they have; after all, he said, the schools are "superior" to other area schools.
School board members thanked the seniors for their input.
Given the stressed financial situation, it doesn't seem like the school board will be able to consider a tax exemption for seniors in anytime in the near future.
"We're really not in a position to offer that kind of tax break right now," Board of Education Chairman Nelson Hale said.
Printed in the November 15, 2012 edition